Endorsement printed in ‘Families Worldwide’, Number 13 Issue 1.14
(Mothers’ Union resources for prayer and action)
On the Shoulders of Giants
Bishop Andrew Proud reflects on the important place Mothers’ Union has played – and continues to play – in the lives of individuals and the wider Church.
I have only been a member since May 2013, but I have worked with Mothers’ Union for years and especially over the nine years we were in Ethiopia with Anglican missionary organisation USPG. You may not know this, but the average Anglican today is
26 years old, black, female and African – and, like as not, a member of Mothers’ Union. Which means that we are the beating heart of the Anglican Communion!
Our Mothers’ Union group in Ethiopia was extraordinary. Members were already active when we got there, visiting the sick and bereaved in the horrendous prisons on the border with South Sudan, and teaching family values. But I shall never forget how, at the end of a long, hot, sticky, dusty journey by car, on a visit to an outlying mission station, it was the Mothers’ Union members, dressed in their uniforms, who washed our feet with the precious water they’d carried a mile from the nearest river. It made you want to cry – because you knew that they would have to make that journey back to the same river to fetch water that evening for their families. And I shall never forget how, when the men had got themselves locked into playing out deep clan rivalries in church meetings, and were threatening each other with actual bodily harm, it was often Mothers’ Union members who stood up to them to challenge the ungracious, ungodly, foolish behaviour. They saved many every day.
That’s why I’m proud to be a member of the Mothers’ Union and now to be Chaplain to the Central Mothers’ Union. You could say I’ve come late to the party, and you’d be right. But I don’t mind admitting that much of what we achieved together in Ethiopia was down to the mothers there – young and old. When I come to think of it, they didn’t only wash our feet – we stood on their shoulders too, just as the Church stands on the shoulders of Mothers’ Union everywhere. And I want to thank you, for all that you do; for your obedience to the loving will of God. And I pray that it will always be your food – and my food – as it was Jesus’ food, to do the will of him who sent him. As love was his meaning, so may it be ours.